Posted by: Rob Lester | March 5, 2012

Lucy’s pelvis, or is it Luke’s?

Although recent fossil discoveries such as “Ardi” and “Sebida” have tried to shove their way into the family tree of alleged human ancestors, it is Lucy who remains the queen of the so-called “missing links.” This partial collection of fossils was found in Ethiopia by Donald Johansen in 1974. Anthropologists were immediately suspicious of this fossil and Johansen had to do some fancy footwork to convince his colleagues that it was NOT a chimp (which many interpreted it to be). One of the most curious features was the pelvis. Only one half was recovered and much of that was distorted or shattered in pieces. It took several attempts at reconstructing the fragments for it to “look right” (wink, wink!). Hausler and Schmid (link below) compared the Lucy pelvis to human and chimp pelvis bones and found that it lacked the characteristic ridges of the female pelvis, was heart-shaped with a protruding sacrum (thus narrowing the birth canal), and the iliac blades were oriented the wrong way. This would make birth difficult. Johansen acknowledged this, but explained it away by saying: “She didn’t need a large [birth canal] because her newborn infant’s brain wouldn’t have been any larger than a chimpanzee infant’s brain (Johanson, et al., 1994, p. 66).” Even Lucy’s discoverer cannot stop making chimpanzee comparisons! Perhaps the most striking result of the Hausler and Schmid study was that the pelvis was morphologically that of a male ape, not a female and certainly not anything approaching human or even pre-human. Lucy (or Luke) possessed an ape pelvis, ape shoulders, ape metacarpals, ape ribs, ape earbones, and ape teeth. This is because the fossil WAS an ape, now extinct.

Hausler, Martin and Peter Schmid (1995), “Comparison of the Pelvis of Sts 14 and AL 288-1: Implications for Birth and Sexual Dimorphism in Australopithecines,” Journal of Human Evolution, 29:363-383.


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